Iceland is the land of waterfalls. We have countless waterfalls in Iceland and even more waterfalls are forming with nature’s seismic activity. Some are small, others are big, some are small and powerful, and others are big and powerless. Then there are some which are only average. Iceland possesses all the range of waterfalls there is. It’s as if water will never run out in Iceland, as if we have infinite water. If the earth will ever dry up, Iceland will for sure be the only part left with water.

So Why Does Iceland Have So Many Waterfalls?

If you’re conversant with Iceland’s landscape, you’d know that the island is filled with many waterfalls. The reason for this boils down to Iceland’s location on the world map. The country is located high up in the Northern Atlantic Ocean, close to the Arctic Circle. Its setting in this location makes it subject to serious weather conditions throughout the year. The island experience tumultuous storms blustering regularly. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that the country experiences regular rainfall that turns to snow when the weather gets colder.

It makes sense to also factor in the numerous glaciers in the country when examining why there are so many waterfalls. In fact, the creeping frozen giants cover a large part of the country’s landmass. The ice typically melts in warmer months feeding the rivers. The rivers’ momentum then increases on its way to the sea, resulting in many magnificent waterfalls. A combination of this snow, ice, and rain means that Iceland gets an almost extreme water level in its various states.

Gullfoss

We have several powerful waterfalls, like Gullfoss waterfall. Gullfoss means “golden falls”. This waterfall is considered the most beautiful one of our country and is also the most popular one to visit. It has a great love story, for in the early 20th century it was saved from being destroyed by foreign businessmen who wanted to turn it into a hydroelectric dam to generate electricity. But a woman named SigríðurTómasdóttir, who grew up by the waterfall, fought hard to save this natural treasure, so we have her to thank for us being able to enjoy this wonder of nature.
Gullfoss is far from being the tallest waterfall in Iceland, but it’s still one of the waterfalls which have the most amount of water streaming through in Iceland. But still not the most. This waterfall is one of the locations you can visit in the Golden Circle route and is the reason for the route’s designation.

Gullfoss waterfall

Glymur

Glymur is the next tallest waterfall in Iceland; 198 meters tall. For long, it was the tallest waterfall in Iceland, until a waterfall started to form by Vatnajökull and got named Morsárfoss. The hiking tour up to Glymur is one of the most beautiful walking paths in Iceland. I recommend everyone who visits Iceland to go see this waterfall. Reykjavik Outventure even has a tour leading to Glymur, and after, you go in the Guðlaug natural pool located in the rock garden of Langisandur, in the little seaside village Akranes. After relaxing there, you get to taste skyr, an Icelandic yogurt-like delicacy loved by Icelanders.

You can find our Glymur Waterfall hiking tour here

Glymur Waterfall

Háifoss

This is the fourth tallest waterfall in Iceland. For long it was thought to be the second tallest waterfall in Iceland, being 122 meters tall, but the newest measuring makes it 128 meters tall. It is located in the South of Iceland and the accessibility to it is alright. This waterfall is located in the Fossá river which runs from the volcano Hekla. All around the waterfall are basaltic rocks with red intermediate layers in-between from various volcanic periods.

Háifoss waterfall iceland

Hengifoss

This waterfall is rather similar to Háifoss in appearance. Both are similarly tall and have these basaltic rocks around with the red intermediate layers after volcanic periods from the formation of the earth. This is the third tallest waterfall in Iceland and is located in the East of Iceland.

Hengifoss waterfall

Seljalandsfoss

This waterfall isn’t very tall, approximately 60 meters tall. However, this is a waterfall you must not neglect to mention, for it is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland.

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This waterfall is on the South Coast route and is essential to go up to if you ever visit Iceland. Behind it is a walking path so you can basically walk around Seljalandsfoss.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall our

Skógafoss

This is my favorite waterfall in Iceland. It is completely magnificent to look at! It is also one of the many shooting locations of the TV show Game of Thrones. It still isn’t recognizable in the show though, as they must have edited it and changed a little postproduction.

Skógafoss also has an interesting historic myth. The Viking ÞrasiÞórólfsson, who settled in Skógar where Skógafoss derives its name, hid a chest filled with his gold and treasures in a cave behind Skógafoss. This mythical chest is now referred to as Þrasakista (which translates as “chest of Þrasi”), and back in the 1600s, three men tried to get the chest from behind the waterfall but only managed to break a circled handle off it. For a long, this handle hung on Skógar’s church doors until the church was disused, but now the handle is located at Skógar Museum.

Skógafoss waterfall

Dettifoss

So, are you ready? This is the biggest waterfall when it comes to water volume streaming through. This waterfall is tremendous! It is located in the northeast and runs from the glacier Vatnajökull. This is the king of all the waterfalls in Iceland and the most powerful waterfall in the whole of Europe. I extremely recommend you go and feast your eyes on this waterfall.

Dettifoss is also the spectacular waterfall you can see in the opening scene of Ridley Scott’s 2012 science fiction movie, Prometheus. In this movie, you can also see the volcano Hekla, and most of the exterior shots filmed are from Iceland’s otherworldly nature.

Dettifoss waterfall

Hraunfossar

This is not a big waterfall, but it is wide and the water streams through capitally. What makes this waterfall spectacular is that it actually consists of many streams and creeks flowing out of the lava, which is why its name translates as “lava waterfalls”. It is beautiful to look at, with a beautiful color combination of turquoise blue and milky white streaming through the lava, surrounded by different color palettes of green. It is located in Borgarfjörður and Reykjavik Outventure offers tours up to this waterfall. It’s included in the Silver Circle tour where Reykjavik Outventure offers various food and drink tastings. I highly recommend this tour and to go see this waterfall.

Hraunfossar waerfall iveland

Goðafoss

Goðafoss means the “waterfall of the Gods”. This waterfall runs into a bay where one of the first Vikings to settle here built its house; Skjálfandaflói. If you’re ever passing through the North region of Iceland, this is a must-stop waterfall.

As the land of waterfalls, Iceland has many other great waterfalls which are enjoyable to visit, for instance, Kirkjufellsfoss in Snæfellsnes, Dynjandi in the Westfjords, Faxi in the Golden Circle route, and many more.

Gljúcrabúi

Although Seljalandsfoss is much more popular, tourists who dare to explore further will experience this unusual waterfall near Seljalandsfoss. Gljúcrabúi or Gljúfrafoss (“Dweller of the Gorge” in Icelandic) is accessible on foot from Seljalandsfoss, so explorers can cover both within a day. Often referred to as “a hidden waterfall,” this waterfall lives up to its name because of its location in Iceland. You literally need to wade into a small stream and walk through a narrow spot on a mountain cliff to see the mysterious waterfall.

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Once you’ve successfully found your way to this location, you’ll be surprised by the number of mossy rocks that surrounds the area, with its water flowing from a high above opening. The whole setting of the fall feels like a fantasy movie scene.

Svartifoss

Loosely translated to mean “the black falls,” this waterfall gets its name from the physical appearance of the cliff of the hexagonal basalt columns. They typically remind explorers of the falls at the Causeway in Northern Iceland because of their physical resemblance.

Svartifoss waterfall is situated in Skaftafell, one of the finest attractions in the Vatnajökull National Pack. It’s a nature reserve, so you can enjoy beautiful views beyond the waterfall when you’re visiting. However, if you’re not a fan of magnificent falls like us, you can enjoy the beautiful landscape that features tons of hanging valleys, glacial rivers, and canyons.

The waterfall is also a little farther from the visitor center (about 5.5 kilometers), so you’ll need to hike to get to it. Grab your hiking shoes when coming.

Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall

If you’re a fan of tall waterfalls, here’s a location you shouldn’t miss visiting. It’s easily the tallest of a group of waterfalls on the Skjalfandafljot River. Standing at about 65 feet high, this fall is nothing short of a spectacle. Photographers always fall in love with this location because of the picturesque backdrop caused by the dramatic contrast between the white rushing water and the dark basalt columns beneath it.

 

Its closeness to the Godafoss waterfall also means you can cover both within a few hours. However, it’s important to note that the terrain leading to this fall gets rugged as you move closer. So it makes sense to plan accordingly.

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